Per Trees Speak’s organizer and guitarist Daniel Martin Diaz (who also does treatments, and plays analog synthesizers, custom Theremin and Monotron), the band’s intention is “to create music with an unrehearsed minimalist approach, performing simple beats, riffs, and sequences that take one inward…to create a sonic environment to set one’s mind free and to become aware of the nuances of tone, melody and structure.”
To this end, their recorded performances are never rehearsed, with the band’s belief being that “a brilliant rehearsal is a lost opportunity to capture a magical moment.” The end result is a recording created in one room, sans overdubs. The band — which also features Michael Glidewell (bass), Gabriel Sullivan (bass), Connor Gallaher, Damian Diaz (guitars, treatments, drums), and Julius Schlosburg (drums) — wrote the music over a five-day period, and they created the individual tracks via editing after the fact.
Trees Speak’s efforts have resulted in an album that is almost like having two separate experiences. The first LP is a selection of shorter pieces which function like something akin to the krautrock of a band like Neu!. It’s replete with motorik rhythm, while also drawing in aspects of more recent instrumental post-rock acts such as Trans Am. Some tracks are pure driving music — “Soul Machine” and “Spirit Oscillator,” especially — but then there’s the shot-through-with-synth creepiness that is “Waiting,” which could easily have soundtracked a horror film from the early ‘80s, so replete is it with tension.
Further film score vibes are locked in on the Angelo Badalamenti-esque “Ghost We Know,” whose psychedelic vibes are mirrored in “Nothing Remains,” whereas the title track seems to bring both the synth and the psychedelic into one perfect, mind-bending piece of music. The rather more experimental pieces are intriguing, and do a solid job of mixing things up, as well as keeping the listening experience varied. But it’s when the the second LP gets put on, and both parts of “Shadow Circuit” play through, that the listener gets a sense of what kind of stretching out Trees Speak is capable of.
Even “Shadow Circuit” is more than just one track split into two halves: the first part is more much improvisational, likely classified as droning experimental music, whereas the the second is like doom metal, but without the drop-D tuning. It’s apocalyptic, but almost hopeful, in a sense of rebirth, as opposed to the possibility of impending complete annihilation. It’s a brilliant way to bring three sides of LP together in one final 10-minute expression of purpose, demonstrating just how well Trees Speak are focused on their work.
The rolling low end manages to rumble through the speakers, while never being overwhelmed by the electronic warbles which pierce through a track like “Black Butterfly.” It’s a delicate balance, but it’s well done. Listens via good speakers or headphones will reveal different aspects of Trees Speak’s music, suitable for both rocking an entire floor of your house or quietly vibing out in a trance while seated in a comfortable chair.
The double LP comes on clear vinyl, and also includes a 12″ double-sided print, five 5″ postcards, and two stickers. It’s all enclosed in a Japanese style polybag, and is limited to an edition of 250. The cover art, by Australian artist Brian Henderson, is sort of a precursor to what you’ll discover as you start opening the package: it’s very intricate, but also intensely organic.
The vinyl center labels don’t denote sides by the standard A, B, C, or D, but instead via a series of images which look like a cross between circuit diagrams and mystical glyphs. It’s absolutely gorgeous and intriguing — the sort of package which reveals more as you listen.
Trees Speak is available on vinyl from Forced Exposure.